New Wave of Partnerships to Protect China’s Rivers | Wilson Center
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New Wave of Partnerships to Protect China’s Rivers

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Webcast Recap

China’s rivers are in crisis. Less than 20 years ago, the country boasted 50,000 rivers, but now China has lost more than half due to over-extraction, climate change, and contamination. Many sections of the Yangtze, China’s largest river basin, have become foul and black as nearly 45% of the country’s sewage and industrial discharge flow into it.  To protect the country’s rivers and lakes, the Chinese government issued the Water Pollution Action Plan in 2015, creating more comprehensive and stricter regulations for water conservation and larger penalties for polluters. From the bottom-up, there is also a new wave of green nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and businesses working to protect and restore China’s beleaguered water ecosystem. In early 2017, a group of China’s most prominent and dynamic environmental civil society groups received support from the Alibaba Foundation to work together on a plan to help protect and restore the Yangtze River watershed, the largest river basin in China.


On October 11, CEF is honored to host a delegation of some of these NGOs who will speak about their varied work on water in China. Wu Haoliang (He Yi Institute) will talk about trends in civil society water activism in China and trainings his group has been hosting. Sheng Liu (Riverwatcher Action Network) will introduce their efforts to expand a citizen science river walker program nationwide to reach 1 million volunteers by 2020. Li Xiang will talk about the legal and policy advocacy water programs developed by Friends of Nature, China’s first registered NGO.



  • Jennifer L. Turner

    Director, China Environment Forum & Manager, Global Choke Point Initiative